Lupe's latest is rappity-rap of the highest caliber
Throughout the history of popular music, fan boys and girls have bestowed the title of “BEST” within a wide net of genres from jazz and R&B to pop and rock. During their eras of dominance there have been universally agreed slam-dunks from the best guitarist (Jimi Hendrix), country music maverick (Johnny Cash), vocalist (Aretha Franklin) and songwriter (Stevie Wonder) to pure entertainer (Michael Jackson) and best all-around talent (Prince). Whether you believe the Beatles or Parliament Funkadelic were the top bands of their era or that R. Kelly and Radiohead dominated the ‘90s scene far beyond their peers, such proclamations always seemingly induce passionate, knockdown, drag-out debates.
So how does this all segue to Lupe Fiasco’s latest composition “Peace Of Paper Cup Of Jayzus”? Working within the legacy of an artistic expression that frequently evolves when it comes to the best lyricists, the Chicago-bred MC stands behind a long line of writers that have raised the lyrical bar. The names are iconic: Melle Mel, Rakim, KRS-One, De La Soul’s Posdunous, Scarface, Notorious B.I.G., Nas, Jay Z, Lauryn Hill, Eminem, and Andre 3000, just to name a few. And there are even fresh-face talents that are coming for that glorious pound-for-pound belt (Kendrick Lamar seems to be leading the best lyricist charge amongst his fellow spitters). But as of September of 2013, Thursday, 1:24 pm ET, Lupe Fiasco offers again more proof that he towers today as the best pure hip-hop lyricist on the world’s stage.
At this point, the man could be pontificating over the melody of “Mary Had A Little Lamb” and his rhyme thread would still be astonishing. “Choosy mothers choose the smoothest peanut butters/And more cognizant fathers do George Washington Carver,” he sets off on a 7-minute meat-and-potatoes beat with very little room to breath. “Do you identify more with what's being made or the maker?/I'm what's being chased/I'm not the chaser…” Switching from deliberate I’m-the-shit braggadocio (“Still play it like Shaquille, but I can free throw”) to the kind of de-mystifying self-reflection rarely heard in rap (“The critics say that I fell off, I acknowledge I slipped/But what do you call falling from space into a bottomless pit?”) this is the measuring stick for heavy wordplay.
What truly makes “Peace Of Paper Cup Of Jayzus” a must Rap Genius read is the subtle, good-natured jabs at today’s gifted MC’s. Odd Future’s teenage prodigy Earl Sweatshirt is paid the highest compliment as he gets a “beat-this” verse that will surly perk up Tyler’s young homie’s ears. “That’s double negative, it's 2 earls/They really nice, but they'll never touch the cup it’s like I gave it to two girls/This my odd future out in front Supreme shop,” Fiasco asserts, only to later switch in the actual place of Earl himself: “Not an Earl diss either, but he might think it be and be like, ‘Lu's new should be Mr. Pure/2positive Shakur/and to be sure/he's not that really nice, that 2 girls and cup line sucked’... You just witnessed a double/a probable Odd Future diss in the future/And me ghostwriting my own rebuttals…” This guy.
Sometimes a musical act goes into an otherworldly zone. We’ve heard it on John Coltrane’s A Love Supreme, “Billie Holiday’s “Strange Fruit," Eddie Van Halen’s jaw-dropping axe solo on “Eruption,” and even on the pure, dance-pop flawlessness of Lady Gaga’s “Paparazzi.” “Peace Of Paper Cup Of Jayzus” showcases an artist so deep between the margins that general rap fans will find it hard to catch up. But years from now, beyond Lupe’s own inconsistencies as a recording artist or his out-there political leanings, those same fans will come to this sobering conclusion: The man is a lyrical genius. —Keith Murphy (@murphdogg29)